1880s History of New Cemetery

During the spring and summer of 1879, citizens of Madison pleaded with City officials to secure new cemetery grounds. “Look at our old cemetery, how rapidly it is being filled up all the ground being occupied,” said ‘Old Citizen’ in the local newspaper. “What shall we do? In a few years more it will be impossible to get a resting place, for some departed one, in the old hill side cemetery. Besides, the colored people are passing away rapidly, and both white and colored being interred in the same enclosure.”

 

A group organized and met July 14 to discuss the issue formally. Motions were made and passed to authorize the Mayor and City Council to proceed in securing new burial grounds.

 

Within the year, the City of Madison had plans to expand the cemetery onto a piece of privately owned land located across the track. This included about one half of a 10.6-acre ridge which projected naturally northwest of and about 17 degrees off perpendicular to the Georgia Railroad track.

 

Legal acquisition of the acreage began in December 1880 with the City’s buying from the estate of tanner Leroy M. Willson for $108, the 5.95 acres on the western portion of the ridge. The early cemetery plan [Fig. 1] included road access to present-day West Washington Street.

This road was never built. Possibly its

construction was made unnecessary

with the 1881 receipt from Morgan

County of the remaining 4.65 acres

of the ridge [Fig. 2], which bordered

the track.

 

During the first days of 1882, a much

more detailed plan of the proposed

cemetery was drawn [Fig. 3]. The total

10.6-acre cemetery expansion onto the ridge would include several ceme-

tery roads and scores of plots for hundreds of gravesites for sale in the “New

Cemetery.” The approximate half closest to the railroad track was for burial

of “white people,” with the farther half for “colored people.” A smaller por-

tion beyond was the “Potter’s Field.” When executed by Surveyor Cyrus B.

Barrow on January 13, 1882, the proposed plat noted in two of the planned plots that burials were already in place. One of these was labeled “E.H. Cohen,” who was mayor of Madison at his death August 29, 1881.

 

On “The Mound” next to the tracks, the 1882 plat clearly shows

five rows of 54 marked graves of “Confederate Dead,” all of

which had recently been reinterred from the profitable center of

the new cemetery. [Fig. 3 inset]

 

In January 1882 Morgan County donated to the City of Madison

the rest of the ridge between the newly-acquired Willson pro-

perty and the track. This included the railroad right of way, and

completed the City’s 10.6-acre cemetery expansion plan.

Resource:

The Confederate Hospitals of Madison, Georgia by Bonnie P. Harris, 2014

(reworded with permission of the author)

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3